Tyranny of Liberalism 3
Prayer Request

Voyager I Departs

Although there is still some argument about it, many experts seem to believe that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system. In the absence of a marker out there with a sign saying "You are now leaving the sphere of Sol," there are subtle differences in the relative emptiness of space that distinguish solar from interstellar space, and Voyager is detecting them. 

I don't think it's very likely that we'll ever go very far into space, and I strongly suspect there's really nowhere to go. (Yes, I know all those probability-based arguments about life on other planets, and maybe they're right, but they can't be anything more than conjecture.) Still, there's something a little awe-inspiring about this: that little bit of metal, sailing and sailing and sailing, at what would be an impossibly high speed on earth but is extremely slow in cosmic terms.

The probe has spent 36 years travelling 12 billion miles. A quick and very rough calculation: a light year is about 6 trillion miles, so that's about 1/500 of a light year. So 36 x 500 = 18,000 years to travel one light year. The nearest star (not counting the sun, obviously) is 4.2 light years away. That comes to a bit over 75,000 years. That may be longer than the human race (language, tools, and culture) as we know it has existed, although I'm sure there are widely divergent views on that.

I wonder how long Voyager will stay intact. Millions of years? I really don't know. In any case, I doubt that this is its future:



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Agreed, nowhere to go. The longer these SETI projects continue, the more it appears there is no one to talk to either.

And if there were, no meaningful interchange would be possible unless they were in the immediate stellar neighborhood. If Proxima Centauri had an inhabited planet (in itself very unlikely):

"Dude, what's happening?"

[8.4 years pass]

"Yo. Still waiting for the hyperspace breakthrough."

[8.4 years pass]

"Us, too."

That's assuming a common language. It would take generations just to establish that. And if the other guys were hundreds or thousands of light years away, it would be a practical impossibility. The gap between messages would be hundreds or thousands of years. Barring some unforeseeable breakthrough in physics, and the technology to exploit it, it's just us.

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